Who do you let see you cry?

“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief…and unspeakable love.” – Washington Irving

We renewed our marriage vows in mass yesterday.  You know, the “Who’s married?  Please stand up so we can bless you and give you an opportunity to renew your vows” type of thing.  I’ve never seen that done before but was happy to participate.  I tried so hard to make it through without crying but the tears started to flow out of the corners of my rapidly blinking eyes when they met my husband’s anyway.

At my shower, as I opened up one of cards from a close friend and the book she got me right after, the involuntary tears started forming.  I had thought I would cry at my baby shower but I had forgotten the reality of it until I was sitting there on the couch, starting to read the words of this little book.  So they fell, one by one.  Happy tears, in front of my friends.  To be in an unbelievable place and sharing it with them.  Happy tears of joy and thanksgiving.

Happy tears.  Then there’s the tears that come when I think about my friend’s miscarriages (I hate that that’s plural) or that come from listening to a song with special significance.  When I read adoption stories that unite selfless love with less than ideal circumstances that showoff our best characteristics in the worst scenarios.  Or the tears that used to come from the unbearable sadness that would hover over me every day, threatening my future life. Or the tears that come when I picture Mary at the cross, holding Jesus, not understanding but blindly following in faith.

Tears that reveal our humanity and our humility.

When I cry these days people say “Oh, its because you are a hormonal pregnant woman, its OK!” as if its not OK to cry otherwise.  Maybe that’s true for some people, but for me, I know I cried plenty beforehand.  Probably even more so.  While I didn’t just waste them on any old situation by overreacting, if they happened to come out while talking about something with someone, I’d try not to be ashamed by them.

In interest of full disclosure, I used to be crazy with the tears.  Again, unintentional, but I’ve been known to cry at just the thought of talking to a teacher when I was younger.  I think I had less control over my emotions then, which is maybe what crying or not crying is related to.  I did it once my first month of grad school and after a hard lecture from my adviser, never again.  I was more frustrated and upset at myself than anything and the result was unfortunately tears.  I understand why tears aren’t good in a professional setting (since they offer a sort of alternate way of communicating that’s not explicit as verbal communication is), but what about in personal relationships?

I think it is a good thing to be so in touch and aware of your emotional state of being that you’re not ashamed to have others know it as well.  There is an openness about it that is respectable, like, I own this feeling, this is where I’m at.  I think a big reason its not more accepted to cry in front of people is because of our nature to just want to fix things.  So people don’t cry because others maybe don’t know how to react to tears.  They are scary, powerful things.  Emotions so strong that they take their own physical shape.  But ultimately, being open is the best way to have effective relationships, even if that means tears are involved, right?

And just for good measure, its humbling, to be seen crying.  Because no one looks good crying, right?  I’m the worst.  Red splotchy face.  Bloodshot eyes.  Instantaneous runny nose.  Kind of hard to hold onto your pride when you’re fumbling for a tissue.

I realize not everyone thinks like this.  In fact, maybe I’m in the minority.  I have friends and I’ve read from others how people don’t cry in front of people or worse, they prevent themselves from even considering thoughts that are bound to elicit tears.  So they just don’t go there, just because they don’t want to cry – either by themselves or in front of someone else.  Somehow I can’t think that’s emotionally healthy but the truth is its such an involuntary thing for me and it comes much more naturally to me to be open and transparent about my feelings that I really don’t understand it when others aren’t. It hurts me more to hold it in (to a fault, but that can be another post….).

So I’m curious, what are your thoughts on tears?  Do you not ever cry or do you just not let people see you cry?  Has infertility or motherhood changed the way you regard tears?  Do you ever see your husband cry? Just wanted to throw that one in there for curiosity ;)

Understanding why

Its so much easier to stop asking why when you’re content with the answer.  But I keep asking myself WhyWhy now Why did I get pregnant this month and not any of the ones before?  But I realize for as much as I want to know and to understand, I’ll probably never have these answers.  Just as I never had the answer to my previous question, Why not?  Only thing is, this is a lot easier of an answer to live with than Why not?

But I guess just for a little exercise, I’ll throw some things out here.  There were so many reasons I shouldn’t have gotten pregnant.

I scheduled work to start after I got my period.

I scheduled to see my friend’s new baby for the few days before I was supposed to get my period.  I am strong, but I know my limits.

I had a negative pregnancy test on P+12. DESPITE being on HCG.

I had cramps.  My period was coming and it felt just like it felt when it was always coming.

I didn’t finish my HCG dose because I ran out.  When I talked to the pharmacy  I just said, screw it and had them send it but not rush it because surely I’d need it for next month or the one after.

We got in a huge discussion on Thursday (P+14?) about how I needed to go to this Christian support group I had found that met the following Tuesday (even though we had a conflict and it would take us over an hour to get there in the LA traffic) and even if all of them were doing IVF it would still mean more to me than sitting in my house by myself and not knowing anyone in real life going through the same thing because I was so lonely.  My husband was supportive and I was looking forward to going.

 

Of course, I guess there are a few things that make sense…

 

My husband had almost finished 3 months of Proxeed.

This was my third cycle after the surgery, 1st full cycle after we both finished the antibiotics. (Probably the most convincing reason)

I was super emotional on the day I should have gotten my period.  Usually this happens a week before, but the few days before I’m stable.  Was totally not stable that day.  I was acting like I was on HCG…hm…

Third month of my anti-inflammation diet.  (Less convinced this did it, although who knows.  I did cheat the day after I ovulated, had a pretzel, and texted my husband, “Im eating this pretzel because I want it.  If I don’t get pregnant because I ate a pretzel, I don’t deserve a baby.”  So, as if there was any doubt, I really don’t deserve this baby.)

My husband had been going to daily mass and told me over the summer he started praying specifically for a baby.  This was a change and something that we used to disagree on, i.e., can you ask God for something you want specifically or should you always just pray for acceptance of God’s will.

Prayer buddies, anyone?

 

So, I don’t know.  I wish I knew why.  Of course I wish I knew why.  The line that kept in my head is “God never gives us more than we can handle” and I feel like I got off easy.  Yes, I know I got off easy.  But I also feel like I was at the end of my rope in some ways.  The fact that we got pregnant makes me think, maybe I really was.  And that’s scary.   But who knows, if I would have gotten my period, I would had to have kept trucking along.  What other choice is there?

I wish I knew why so many women have to wait and wait despite wanting to be mothers all their life.  And I wish I knew why some women just decide one day to try for another and get pregnant immediately.  And most of all, I wish I knew why people who subsist on cereal and Dr. Pepper get pregnant right away while other eating organically and living super healthy don’t get pregnant ever.

I do know that one day this will all be revealed to us.  So I had better get good at waiting.  And keep praying for those whose time of waiting isn’t as exciting as this time of waiting.

Attempting the anti-inflammation diet

There’s been a lot of gluten/dairy free cooking going on in this kitchen these days.

If you have any recipes or can offer any advice/tips on doing this anti-inflammation diet, I’d really appreciate it.  I’m living off of spinach, chicken, and rice.  It has only been about 2 weeks and I’m already losing steam and would do just about anything for a biscuit.  As soon as we figure out our insurance situation (or maybe before) I’m planning on getting allergy tested so I’ll know exactly what it is that causes me problems, but until then I’m going with the usual culprits.

Brown rice pasta with sweet pepper sauce

Blueberry oatmeal "pancakes", eggs and bacon...I sure hope I get to keep the eggs....

Also, when life hands you a lemon (tree)…

make lemonade!

Oops, too slow on the picture...that lemonade was too delicious

 

Rule #1 of food photography: Use your own glass/plate so that the object doesn't get stolen mid shot!

 

Seriously though, any good gluten/dairy free recipes out there?

My battle with “natural”

I may be a secret hippie at heart.

I use many ‘natural’ products. I’ve made my own laundry soap, shampoo and conditioner.  I don’t shave my legs nearly as much as is appropriate – and not at all in winter (does it still count as winter?).  I use reusable feminine products.  I avoid buying unnecessarily packaged food.  I prefer the idea of using less over buying more.  I want to knit my own everything.  I dream of having a garden and a compost when we ever have a house together again.    I’m learning more about the truth behind what foods I eat and I’m trying to change my decisions daily (although old cravings die very, very hard).  I’m not over the top on this by any means and I try not to talk about these things, but I do try to make those small changes if its possible and more importantly, I enjoy doing these things.  I like to feel as self-sufficient as possible.

As a Catholic, I think natural law is the coolest thing ever.  As should be obvious by now, I am a big proponent of naturally spacing children and avoiding hormones to control healthy, naturally occurring reproductive processes.  I love the idea of having a natural birth and breastfeeding.  You know, doing what your body is supposed to do and feeding your child as it would happen, naturally.

Are you sick of that word yet?

I am.

Because the problem is I’m staring down the barrel of an ideological crisis.  I’m realizing what I would really want more than anything is a natural conception.

And if that’s the most important thing for me, then at this rate it may mean never conceiving at all.

Yes, if I do ever conceive it will be the ‘old-fashioned’ way with an act between my husband and I (as a Catholic, what I consider ‘natural’ and ‘moral’ are separate ideas – the latter being a non-negotiable, the former being, well, what I’m trying to figure out) but ideally I’d want it even more natural than that.  I’d love nothing more than the truly natural ‘Hey look honey we didn’t abstain this month and weren’t pumped full of fertility drugs and no doctor was monitoring my blood and look just what happened naturally, we’re pregnant!”

Oh, how hard it is to let go of that dream.

Equally hard is accepting that while for some couples, it is as simple as that, for others it isn’t.

I realize that so many of you are so far beyond this that you’re probably rolling your eyes right now and thinking “Natural or not, I just want a conception. Period!” Maybe there are others saying “Maybe if it doesn’t come naturally, you’re just not meant to have children.”

I’m stuck somewhere in the middle.

I imagine this is similar to those women trying to decide what matters to them in the delivery room.  There’s so much thought and preparation that goes into how to deliver a baby and its a very important decision.  Keyword:  decision.  It appears it is a choice.

I know that not all women want to have a natural birth.  That is their decision.   Some women do and they fight tooth and nail to get it.  More power to them. I know that many women do want one and end up for one reason or another (usually life threatening) having medical reasons and needing help either through pain medication or a cesarean.  Other women get pushed into it by their doctors for less serious reasons.  I’ve talked to several friends who associate such trauma with birth precisely because when it came down to it, they had no choice in the matter.  What happened had to happen because lives were at risk.

At the end of the day you’ll say “All that matters is that the baby is healthy” anyway, right?

If I thought I was that woman who would fight for a natural birth, doesn’t that mean I’m that woman who would fight for a natural conception?

I don’t know if ‘deciding’ on a natural conception is the same because it does not seem to be an even choice.  It’s not that I have a fair choice between having a ‘natural’ or an ‘aided’ (is that the opposite?) conception in the first place.  That decision seems to be taken away from me already.  The choice is rather between, ‘aided’ or potentially, none and really, let’s admit that that’s not even a choice I get to make either since pursuing fertility treatments doesn’t guarantee anything.  But the choice I do get to make is if I go down that path at all.  It is a choice to wait indefinitely.

And it’s not really a life or death situation,  so I don’t know if it’s the same ‘non-choice’ that a woman in a life threatening situation in the delivery room has.  Unless we consider it as a life or death situation for our future biological non-existent children (which I don’t believe in a pre-existence so, I can’t).  Or the life or death of my biological motherhood which at the end of the day isn’t the death of an actual person – I am still alive, it’s just the death of an idea or a dream (as painful as it is).

I don’t write this to upset people but because I’m truly trying to figure out why I have this attachment to the “natural”.  I know that regardless of my moral beliefs, it would be impossible to allow myself to do IUI or IVF on this idea alone: that we were being stripped of such a naturally occurring process of our love literally making a baby.  I think many fertile couples take for granted how spectacular that is.  I couldn’t and wouldn’t let anyone take away from me that most intimate detail of the miracle of conception even if I had no religious guidance on the matter.

Ultimately, infertility in most cases is what is unnatural.  I guess I say most cases because I feel like in my case, what has given all illusions to be unexplained infertility, this just may very well be our natural state.  If you’re using modern medicine to help you conceive and overcome a disease or a known problem, then that would be restoring health.   But if all those processes are already happening and you just can’t conceive?  I don’t know what I would do next.  Could I just give up and accept that?  If I decide that natural conception isn’t important, well then natural birth or breastfeeding wouldn’t be either.  Can I have it both ways?  I know despite my efforts, there are many things I do in my life that aren’t natural so I find it curious that I seem to have drawn the rules at reproduction.

So this is my battle with the “natural”.  It’s horribly inconvenient given my situation.

But I don’t know if I can bring myself to believe that convenience is what matters.

These things come in threes…

Got two pregnancy announcements over here today, so does anyone have something to add to it? It seems these things come in threes and I was kind of hoping just a little bit that #3 would be a sub/infertile blogger.

 

Maybe Sunshine from the other day counts? (Congrats Sunshine!)

Anyone else have something to tell us?

 

I’m sure you’d be screaming it from the rooftops if you were.

Cheating at NFP

When we first got married, I feel pressure (from myself) to make sure that we followed the rules of our NFP method exactly.  I did want to be the one to show that NFP does work to postpone pregnancy.  It was important for us to avoid, so it was equally important for us to follow the guidelines of the method (which included abstinence if unsure about that days observations).  I do think that the success of using NFP is partially equivalent to the seriousness of avoiding pregnancy.  Imagine my surprise then, when I discovered on an online NFP forum that there were what seemed like multitudes of women who had ‘accidentally’ used a day and were concerned at the possibility of pregnancy.

I realize that I am a naive, recently married, and now sub-fertile woman with a whole life of supposed ‘fertility’ left, so there are many situations that I have yet to encounter in my marriage (that honestly, right now, does include a fair amount of sex – did you notice the sub-fertile part?) but I was amazed at the number of women that basically seemed to ‘cheat’* at the rules of NFP.  This is not an admonishment (and I did learn about this back in my blissful “I must be fertile because my sister is” phase), but I started to wonder if I was in the minority of couples who rigorously followed the rules.

So a nosy question to all those who have used NFP to avoid pregnancy: I am curious, have you ever ‘cheated’ at NFP?  Do you regularly cheat?  Cheating for the sake of discussion here is when you knowingly break the guidelines of your method of NFP, i.e., when you knowingly decide to have intercourse on a fertile or unsure day, despite previously deciding to not attempt to achieve pregnancy. I do also want to say that understand about the frustration that accompanies long abstinence required during breast-feeding, but I still want to include being unsure about your signs s breaking the rules of NFP here.

So my answer first (because once upon a time, we did use NFP to avoid pregnancy).  We have used the peak + 3 evening before and I remember feeling the need to tell someone that we technically could be pregnant that month, just so they wouldn’t blame it on the method!  And I remember being really excited (hence my hypothesis that not all cheating is really cheating after all) at the possibility of pregnancy.

If you don’t want me or others to see your name, please feel free to make up a name/email or comment as anonymous.  I promise no judging, I’m just trying to gauge if couples generally follow the rules to the tee or not.  Thanks!

*And yes, I get the awkwardness of using the word cheat to define a personal decision between you and your spouse, so please forgive me.  Or suggest a better word?

Humility vs. Self-Confidence

I find that the humility/self-confidence line is a hard one to straddle.  I have been taught that to have both characteristics is virtuous, but the reality of balancing the two is frustrating.  Does humility prevent self-confidence?  Or does self-confidence automatically prohibit humility?  Maybe I merely use humility as an excuse to not be over-confident?

Does anyone else struggle with this?

While I may appear to give the vibe of being very confident, in reality I doubt myself much of the time.  Self-confidence is an issue that comes up frequently in my field of work, being a woman in engineering.  Additionally, humility is not a character trait respected in academia.  Its almost as if you emit humility, you emit fear, and they seek and destroy.  Before I left for college my dad gave me these words of advice.

“If you learn anything, learn to have these two things:  patience and self-confidence.”

Those words have echoed in my head for the past what, almost 10 years now?  Unfortunately, so did another comment my dad made to my in high school.

“Do you think anyone would like you if you weren’t tall and blonde?”

You mean they wouldn’t still like me for my charming personality?  Not to paint my dad out to be a bad guy, he’s definitely the opposite and was usually very encouraging of me, which is probably why I took those words to heart.

It seems I am either extremely confident in what I do to the point of over-confidence or I doubt everything and fall back into thinking that the only reason I’m where I’m at is because they needed to fulfill a “tall, blonde girl” quota.  Middle ground in confidence is hard to come by.  Usually I get there by accepting the fact that I don’t need to be the absolute best at something in order to be proficient, my worth is not determined by what others think, and gloating is never appropriate, even as a response to gloating.

 

So, how do you maintain humility without losing all self-confidence?

In our hands?

A while back I updated how I’m now learning the Creighton method of NFP.  It seems to be the sub-fertile thing to do, so I hopped on, thinking I could get some good information about my cycles and talk to doctors that would understand and respect my stance on ART.

I think its finally hitting me what this all means.

I have two months of charts now.  Two months of charts that will be sent off to Dr. Hilgers for his assessment of the situation (which according to my practitioner, he’s very likely to suggest that I have endometriosis based on lack of any other reason and recommend surgery).

And then the treatment can start.

Because all of this up til now, this was nothing.

I cried in the car right after we had our last session.  I almost started crying during the session, but I managed to hold off.  Just something about having to go through all of these steps to have a baby creates anxiety.  Steps that so many other people don’t have to go through at all, that you shouldn’t have to go through.  Its not the way God designed our bodies.

And this was all after my relaxing birthday weekend of beach time, spa treatments and massages, so I really was at my absolute ‘chillest’.

As much success as I’ve had charting with the Creighton method (and my charts look the same, by the way, just now with colored stickers!) I have to say, this idea of control is what is freaking me out more than anything.  I’m weary of this promise and hope that Creighton and Naprotechnology is providing.  I believe in the method working, I just fear that putting my faith in these doctors will consume me and our pursuit of family.  We also fear blindly following our desire for biological children.  Its really easy to keep going on as we are, but it will take a concerted effort to up the treatment.  I’m an extremely indecisive person anyway (seriously, I can’t figure out what to order at restaurants most of the time!) and I’ve realized I don’t like to be in control but find pleasure in going with the flow and adapting.  I also know that I have a fear of wanting something only to not get it (I actually dread birthdays because of that – all the hype!).  I can’t imagine going through the initial 2-week treatment required in Omaha without stressing out. And that’s just the beginning!  It just all sounds so intense, which is the opposite name of the game I’ve been playing with myself these days.

I know we need to up our prayer life a lot to discern what’s right for us as this progresses and while we know that its not right for us to start anything now (see this), it has hit me how much harder this is going to get.  And that statistically, waiting around much longer doesn’t have the best odds.

I have a renewed sense of respect for all the women going through treatment now.  So my question is, how did you do it?  How did you and your husband decide when to start your treatment?  Was there a distinct moment, or was it gradual?  Also, did you and your husband agree on when to start?  We’ve only done diagnostics at this point and they’ve all come back a-okay.

I’d love to hear from those of you that have gone through this.

What’s in a blessing?

I’ve been struggling trying to figure out the answer to this question for a while.  I think its probably a basic question that most non-religious people grapple with religion and maybe I’m just dense right now, but I can’t seem to find an answer that satisfies.  Particularly as it relates to having children.

What makes something a blessing?  What is the difference between a blessing and a non-blessing?  Are there such things as non-blessings?

Ok, so I guess that was three questions.

People acknowledge blessings all the time.  You’ll even catch people who aren’t spiritual or religious at all talking about blessings!  Maybe you’ve heard people say things like these:

Oh I met my husband by being in that place at that exact moment and it turns out he’s my soulmate, what a blessing!

The baby was born healthy despite showing abnormality in the ultrasound, what a blessing to us!

or

What a blessing we missed our flight connection because the plane crashed!

Are blessings circumstantial?  Do we only consider things blessings if they’re what we want at the time?  While a couple struggling to conceive would see the birth of their child or an adoption placement as a blessing, a single woman  or a woman struggling to take care of many children already may see that unexpected new life as a burden.

Before I became Catholic I wondered if being a Christian was just about being happy all the time, choosing to think positively instead of negatively.  Well, I can just be optimist without being Christian, thank you very much, I thought.  When I finally became Catholic I had the realization that in a way, being Christian is like choosing to be an optimist because with the good news brought to us through the reality of Jesus and the Gospel message, that’s the only proper response! If you believe God has a plan and you’re here for a purpose, the need to worry about the future subsides.  To not be optimistic and thankful for the little things in life is like choosing to reject a birthday present someone picked out just for you.

So here’s where it gets tricky. As a Christian, I am able to count my blessings in the little things everyday, but this doesn’t take away from the fact that there are some things that are intrinsic blessings.  I realize that Catholics and Christians are different from everyone else: we choose to acknowledge all human life as miraculous and a blessing, no matter what circumstance.  Since we are made in God’s image and likeness, life is an innate blessing.  So is health. (I don’t see wealth as an intrinsic blessing, I might add, I just think its something that we happen to like because it makes us more comfortable).

Children are intrinsic blessings.  The bible repeatedly tells us this.  God tells Abraham that his offspring will outnumber the stars (Genesis 12) and blessed is the man with a quiver full of children (Psalm127: 3-5).  There are countless more verses that I don’t have time to cite.

There is no denying that children are a blessing, so where does that leave people who don’t have children? Are they cursed?*  Or are they just not blessed, not favored?

Really interested to hear what people think about this.

*In the interest of full disclosure, I actually had never thought of this before. After another month of not conceiving and in a rare emotional moment my husband mentioned this once and I didn’t have an answer for him.

Quirky Music

I rediscovered my CD’s in my car this morning.  I admit I have weird agglomeration of music, since I usually don’t look for it myself but go off almost entirely by recommendations, usually from my little brother and friends (like Zhar!).  It fits me though, since my music is quirky much like myself.

I found a CD a friend made for me in college and the first song was by “The Mountain Goats”.  Its called “Jenny” and you can search for it on lala.  I forgot how much I like that song!  Its very raw and the lyrics never quite make sense, but somehow it does.  But the song is so quirky that it just makes me smile.  Makes any sad day new again!

Like here are song of the lyrics:

“you roared into the driveway of our southwestern ranch-style house
on a new Kawasaki, all yellow and black
fresh out of the showroom.
our house faced west,
so the big orange sun positioned at your back,
lit up your magnificent silhouette.
how much better?
how much better can my life get?
900 cubic centimeters of raw whining power.
no outstanding warrants for my arrest.
whoa-whoa. whoa whoa.
the pirate’s life for me.”

I guess it sounds a lot better in song form.

Anyway, I was just looking them up to listen to some more songs, and I saw that they just released a new song.  AND they appeared on the Colbe.rt Report two months ago.  My quirky music going mainstream?

They do sound more polished.

SO anyways, I write this because its been a while since I’ve had any quirky recommendations and its been a while since I’ve had a good need for new music.  Anyone have any suggestions?